Losing a loved one is often the hardest thing that most Kentucky residents go through, especially if it is unexpected and due to the negligent actions of another party. Many unexpected deaths result in criminal charges for the party believed responsible, but those proceedings may not provide the sense of justice a grieving family needs due to the stringent burden of proof that prosecutors must meet in criminal court. Civil law allows for the filing of a wrongful death suit, which comes with less of a burden to meet.
That does not mean that there are not still certain elements that must be proved before a Kentucky civil court will consider awarding damages. If you find yourself in this position, you will need to provide the court with certain evidence that establishes that the death of your loved one was due to some intentional action or negligence on the part of another party. You will also need to show the court that you suffered financial losses due to the loss of your family member.
Wrongful death claims can arise out of any number of circumstances. For example, a drunk driver caused an accident that resulted in the death of your loved one. Perhaps a doctor failed to properly diagnose a fatal health condition. Even if your family member was murdered, the person deemed responsible could face a wrongful death claim filed by the personal representative of the victim's estate.
Even though the burden of proof in a civil wrongful death suit may be lower than in criminal proceedings, that does not mean that the case will be an easy one. Understanding the applicable laws and the evidence required can be a challenge since these cases can quickly become complex. An attorney can answers your questions, tell you whether a civil action is an appropriate course of action and guide you through the process.
Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," Oct. 7, 2017